Author: Mimzy

Kentucky Derby Party – Part II

Now that I’ve given you all the photos and fashion from Derby day, here is the menu (and recipes!) that conspired to make Kentucky Derby day such a rousing success:

  • Mint Juleps
  • Grilled Pimento Cheese and Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches
  • Watermelon and Feta Bites
  • Charles’ Pan-Fried Chicken (my dear friend H. brought this special delight)
  • Mini Grits and Greens (homemade by the one and only J.D.)
  • Laurie Osteen’s Coconut Cake
  • Other savories: a shrimp platter, Late July Sweet Potato Chips, Maille Cornichons, sweet tea

 

The Perfect Mint JulepIMG_1286
adapted from The Food Network (makes 10-12)
I am so happy I read through the recipe first. This must be made 24 hours in advance for proper marrying of flavors!

Ingredients
4 cups bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark. You’ll need two 750ml bottles)
1 bunch fresh mint
1 cup distilled water
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions

To prepare mint extract, remove about 50 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.
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To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.
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To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the glass bowl or a pitcher and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass 1/2 full with ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

Pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice. Serve immediately.

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grilled-pimiento-cheese-and-fried-green-tomato-sandwich-gpc-646Grilled Pimento Cheese and Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches
adapted from Bon Appetit (makes 4)

INGREDIENTS: PIMIENTO CHEESE
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar 1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic paste
Kosher salt

PREP: PIMIENTO CHEESE
Mix mozzarella, cheddar, mayonnaise, cream cheese, roasted pepper, hot sauce, and garlic powder in a medium bowl; season with salt. Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

INGREDIENTS: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
2 large green tomatoes, sliced 1/3-inch thick (I used 3 small tomatillos instead)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups panko
Vegetable oil (for frying; about 3 cups)
4 ciabatta rolls, split
8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: A deep-fry thermometer

PREP: FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Place tomatoes on a large paper towel–lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs and hot sauce in a shallow medium bowl. Whisk flour, garlic powder, and paprika in another shallow medium bowl. Place panko in a third shallow medium bowl.

Using paper towels, pat tomatoes dry. Working in batches, dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko, pressing to adhere.

Pour oil into a large deep skillet to a depth of 1 inch and heat over medium heat until thermometer registers 350°. Working in batches, fry tomatoes, turning halfway through, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Spread cut sides of each roll with pimiento cheese. Place rolls, pimiento cheese side up, on a baking sheet and broil until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Build sandwiches with rolls, cooked bacon, and fried green tomatoes.

IMG_0055Watermelon and Feta Bites

INGREDIENTS

~2 lbs of cubed watermelon
6-8 ounces feta cheese
4-5 tablespoons of whole milk
1 organic cucumber

PREP

With the small end of a melon baller tool, cut little half rounds out of the center of each cube of watermelon. Whip feta cheese and milk together in a food processor until creamy.  Scoop the cheese into the indentations. Garnish with a tiny slice of cucumber. Place on a platter and serve.

Mini Grits and Greens
adapted from Southern Living by J.D.
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GRITS

  • 1 package of instant grits
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) freshly shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

TOPPING

  • 8 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

PREP

  1. Make instant grits according to package directions, using chicken broth as opposed to water. Whisk in Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients, whisking constantly until cheese melts. Keep warm.
  2. Stack spinach on a cutting board. Tightly roll up leaves, and thinly slice into 1/8-inch strips. Quarter chorizo lengthwise, and cut into small pieces.
  3. Sauté pancetta in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes. Add spinach, vinegar, and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until greens are bright green and just tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place about 1 Tbsp. grits into each mini dish, and top with spinach mixture. Serve immediately.

 


Laurie Osteen’s Coconut Cake

from Bon Appetit (serves 10)

When I read this recipe in an old (2013) issue of Bon Appetit, I tore it out immediately and marked it “Kentucky Derby Party.”

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INGREDIENTS

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • All-purpose flour (for pans)
  • 1 15-16-ounce box yellow cake mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:  Three 8-inch-diameter cake pans (I ordered mine from Amazon)

PREP

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Whisk cake mix, eggs, oil, and 1 cup milk in a large bowl until no lumps remain. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans; smooth tops.

Bake cakes until a tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix coconut, sugar, sour cream, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon milk in a medium bowl to combine; set frosting aside.

Transfer pans to wire racks; let cool 5 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and spread frosting over tops of warm cakes, dividing evenly. Stack cakes. Let stand at room temperature, covered with a cake dome, or loosely tented with foil, at least 4 hours before serving.

DO AHEAD: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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Until next year, Derby lovers. xoxo.

Kentucky Derby Party – Part I

After a brief hiatus from the blog, I’ve returned to bring you all the juicy details from this weekend’s Kentucky Derby Party. This post will focus on fashion and images from the party, and in a second post, I’ll provide all the recipes and party tips.

The first Saturday in May brings with it one of the most venerated moments in sports history – the Kentucky Derby.  A member of the esteemed Triple Crown of horse racing (a trifecta completed by the Preakness and Belmont), this race has pomp, circumstance, and tradition for all to enjoy.

This year, I decided to embrace Southern charm and Southern cooking and host a party befitting the race.

First, the hat. Before even sending the invitations, I knew that finding the hat was essential. Luckily, within mere minutes browsing through Etsy, I found a the perfect designer, Eye Heart Me. I fell in love with her creations, and ultimately settled on an ivory and black fascinator that would not only go with any dress I chose to wear, but could be worn for other events in the future. When it arrived in the mail, I was not disappointed. Carefully wrapped and even more beautiful than the photos, the precision and detail of this artisan were clear. It was also very comfortable and easy to wear on the day of the party, and, despite all my hostessing shenanigans, it stayed perfectly in place all day.

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Eye Heart Me fascinator (side view)

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Eye Heart Me fascinator (front view)

 

Mint Juleps, cheddar grits, fried chicken, pimento cheese sandwiches, and sweet tea rounded out the day:

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First guest = first mint julep taste tester. Results = success!

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Cake Topper charges to the finish line!

 

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The take-home treat – a classic blondie (my go-to recipe), wrapped and monogrammed

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Perfection. Charles’ Pan-Fried Chicken. Only in Harlem, NYC.

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Feta and Watermelon Bites

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Be-hatted and be-dazzled

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Mint juleps and mini cheddar grits. Are you hungry yet?

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Classic Southern – Laurie Osteen’s Coconut Cake

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Run, baby, run!

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And a little bubbly to finish things off

 

Get the full menu and recipes here.

xoxo.

Neutral Dressing

In a passing comment, my boss said, “I am so glad you aren’t afraid to wear color. Too many New York City girls wear all black.”

City girls do get a bad rap. Don’t get me wrong – I certainly appreciate (and utilize, on occasion) the ease of dressing in head to toe black. It is an armor which provides a slimming effect and a resistance to city dust. However, there is also a lot to be said for the joy of dressing colorfully.

Several years ago, a fashion-forward coworker and I had a Khaki & White Challenge.  The rules were simple: wear khaki on the bottom and white on the top to work for one week. If you cracked and wore something with color, you owed the other person dinner. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard! It actually made morning decisions really easy (all those of you who wore uniforms to school can relate).

Hypothetically, if I had to pick only one color that I could wear for the rest of my life (horrors!), I’d choose white. This is a page torn directly from the Olivia Pope book of fashion. Wearing all white is SUCH a powerful statement.

Last week, I chose an outfit based in neutral tones: white, gray, and ivory:

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Dress: 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target. Blazer: Banana Republic.

The dress is a fitted sweater-style, with a loose, pleated hem. The blazer is fitted and structured, as jackets should be. Vogue would tell us that the new neutrals are light in color and turn multi-seasonal when choosing fabric and layering.

SHOP THIS LOOK:

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Victoria’s Secret (Sale $114)

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Vince ($495)

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Club Monaco ($139)

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kate spade ($428)

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Nightcap (Sale $207)

xoxo

Friday Favorite: Living Libations Best Skin Ever

This week, I’d like to mention a remarkable product produced by a lovely Canadian husband and wife.

First, let me forewarn that I do not generally gravitate toward the “all-natural” beauty product market. For skincare, I would rather buy more expensive products from reputable brands several times a year than have a whole arsenal of half-used drugstore wannabes. Clarins and La Mer are two of my favorite splurges (to be reviewed at a later date).

I had never heard of Living Libations until I saw it on my best friend’s Instagram feed in January. Since I know she has super-sensitive skin and struggles to find the right products, I was instantly curious. Also, as a vegan, she has devoted considerable research into the organic and natural beauty market.

I logged onto the website and literally spent hours reading descriptions and reviews for the wealth of the company’s available products. Everyone was raving! I ended up with six items in my cart, but ultimately narrowed it down to the most popular product – “Best Skin Ever” skin oil in Seabuckthorn (they have other fragrances like Rose, but I figured I’d start with the original).

I try to avoid buying unnecessary products (or products that I can’t return). No one wants to be forced to throw something away or be reminded of their folly seeing it their medicine cabinet on a daily basis.

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As someone with naturally oily skin, I was fairly skeptical of the whole skin oil craze. Why do I need more oil on my face? However, after using this product, I was convinced. The oil naturally attracts and removes oil and dirt from your face, leaving behind a natural glow (never slick or greasy). It’s also a great moisturizer. I used it for a few weeks, then brought it home for my mom to try. She was so impressed that I sent her a bottle of her own.

Heed her advice: “Once you find something that works, don’t switch. Beauty products are generally best when you develop consistency and use them over the long term.” I think Best Skin Ever is a new long-term love!

My usage:
AM: Wet face. Put 3-4 drops of Best Skin Ever on the corner of a damp facecloth, and massage over skin in circular motions to exfoliate and cleanse. Rinse and dry face, then continue with normal beauty routine (moisturizer, sunscreen, etc).
AM & PM: Add 1-2 drops of Best Skin Ever to moisturizer and blend into skin. Let the happy glow commence!

Pros:
Every ingredient is good for your skin.
The fragrance is light and beautiful.
At $30.00, Best Skin Ever is at a similar price point to those found at Sephora (Josie Maran, Tarte, etc.).

Cons:
A little pricey to ship internationally. But since you are only using a few drops per day, the bottle lasts for a while. I now order multiple bottles and split them with my mom – problem solved!

(I definitely meant to post this on Friday, but it never made it out of my draft folder. Oops!)

xoxo

Hairstyle From Three Angles: Crown Braid Ponytail

 

 

A little hair inspiration to start the new work week…

One day several weeks ago (pre-haircut), I opted for a tidy but interesting hairstyle at the office. (Is it just me or do braids have a summery vibe? Perhaps it was wishful thinking!)

Regardless, this was a fun way to liven up a basic outfit, and perfect if you are growing out bangs or layers, so I thought I would share.

Step one: side part a two-inch section of hair.

Step two: french braid the section, guiding it around the crown until you pass your right ear, then switch to a regular braid all the way to the bottom. Tie off with a mini-elastic.

Step three: make a ponytail with the rest of your hair.

Step fourLoop the braid around the ponytail to cover the elastic.  Secure the end of the braid with a hair-toned bobby pin under the ponytail.

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Voila! Not too hard if you have medium to long hair and can do the french braid. I might try it out with one or two small, standard braids.

Have a happy start to the week!

xoxo,
Mimzy

Friday Favorite: Wen Cleansing Conditioner

Boardroom to Ballroom is giving you one more reason to love Fridays.

Today is the first “Friday Favorite” – where I’ll tell you about one of my favorite products – from beauty to fragrance to kitchen tools.

For the inaugural Friday Favorite post, I have chosen a relative newcomer to Sephora shelves and my shower shelf: Wen Cleansing Conditioner in Fig.

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I was introduced to this product by a dear family friend, Cindy.  When she arrived at my parents’ annual Christmas Eve event looking like she had just stepped out of a salon, I just had to know what product(s) she was using. She told me that this Wen product had very nearly had a transformational effect on the way she viewed haircare.

I tried a sample of the Cleansing Conditioner soon after.  The product has absolutely no suds, so if you are like me (proudly sudsing since Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo), it may require a bit of a mental adjustment. Bare with it – even combing my hair after the first use, I was impressed. I purchased the full-size bottle, and have been using it for a month now. I still love the results: my hair is silkier, hydrated, and a breeze to comb though when its wet. The product is not overly-perfumed, but has a mild, natural fragrance. 

My usage: Generally, I wash my hair every other day. I start with John Freida Go Blonder shampoo, because I like the way it perks up my highlights. Instead of conditioner (or washing twice), I use Wen Cleansing Conditioner and rinse it out as the last step of my shower. On weekends, I’ll use Wen on its own. 

The other day, a woman stopped me in the pharmacy to ask, “What do you use to get your hair that shiny and straight?” I told her that my hair was naturally straight, but took the moment to rave about the Wen product. She wrote it down…another fan-to-be!

Have you used any of Wen’s products? What did you think?
Share in the comments!

xoxo,
Mimzy

P.S. If you have a product you would like me to review, let me know!

Lights, Camera, Oscar Party Menu

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Even though I’m not having my usual Oscar soiree this year, I thought it would be fun to dream up a quick dinner menu for tonight’s festivities.

This super-easy menu will leave plenty of time for critiquing all the looks on the red carpet:

Oscar menu 2014

I’ve purposefully left the amounts relatively adjustable, so you can use this menu regardless of your party size.

First, pour a glass of champagne. Now you can start cooking.

Make the feta drizzle: 1/2 cup feta cheese, 2T fat free plain Greek yogurt, drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and 2 tsp fresh dill. (Add a tablespoon or two of water if it isn’t loose enough, but remember that the cheese will melt a little when its warm). Blend in a food processor until creamy, then transfer to a small saucepan to warm on low, low heat. 

Set out the dipping oil (olive oil, salt, pepper, dried basil, parmesan cheese – mixed gently) and sliced baguette.

Plate the arugula.

Sear the steak (depending on thickness/preference): Rub room temp steak with salt & pepper & olive oil. Heat your pan for about 4 minutes. Place the steak in the hot pan and let it cook undisturbed about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Plate the steak on the arugula; drizzle with warm feta sauce.

Pour another glass of champagne.

Cheers! Enjoy the Oscars!

xoxo,
Mimzy

For the Love of Art

Today, I’ll focus on the art of dressing stylishly for two radically different back-to-back events. This concept is actually the inspiration for the name Boardroom to BallroomIn my case, I generally go from the office to something more glamorous without any time to go home to change.

The Boardroom tends to come with its own dress code, whereas the Ballroom, by its very nature, offers us a chance to try a more elevated, experimental, or fun style. 

This week, my secret is layers.

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In the morning, pre-Boardoom

I bought this fantastic Tinley Road maroon jumpsuit at Piperlime about a month ago, during one of their secret sales. I fell in love immediately and put it in my closet to await the perfect event.

I didn’t have to wait long. A group of NYC artists, (including Cole Blumstein, whose phenomenal work I’ve purchased in the past) collaborate for a show at the downtown Burger Joint every few months, and invited me to attend on Wednesday. As soon as I heard, I knew my jumpsuit was perfect.

Jumpsuits and conservative offices are not BFFs  So for work, I paired it with a standard, buttoned black suit jacket and basic heels. Nothing flashy.

For the art show, I added a bit of extra eyeliner, the gold moto jacket I’ve featured before, and black peeptoe booties.

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Pretending to admire artwork in my own apartment

Shop the look (click the image to visit link):

red jumpsuit-vince camuto womens vneck faux wrap jumpsuit            red jumpsuit-31 phillip lim sleeveless lightweight jumpsuit
Vince Camuto $52      3.1 Phillip Lim on sale $372

gold moto jacket-trina turk metallic moto jacket         gold moto jacket-j brand ready to wear aiah metallic leather moto jacket
Trink Turk $428       J Brand $1195

black ruffle boot-nine west womens morolee bootie  black ruffle boot-sergio rossi ruffled suede and mesh ankle boots
Nine West  $51.00             Sergio Rossi on sale $424

Share your style conundrums in the comments section! I’d love to hear.

xoxo,
Mimzy

The Right Time for Red

Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought a post on red lipstick would be particularly appropriate today…

For at least three years now, women’s fashion magazines have been telling us that deep shades of lipstick are having a moment. As a pasty office worker, I love the way a bright lip pops my face and my outfit. But, I’ve come to realize that a conservative office full of men is not really the place to experiment with lipstick. They tolerate pinks, nudes, and basically any shade of gloss.

Berry, fushia, red…there’s a time, place, and occasion to wear them appropriately. For me, one of these is my volunteer post at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Really, if you can’t be a little experimental with your makeup amongst the Warhols and Lichtensteins, where can you?

For the truly deep shade of red I decided to rock last Saturday, the rest of one’s makeup should be glowy and fresh. I skipped any undereye-liner in favor of a single black gel line on top, paired with a light mauve shadow and black mascara (also, upper lashes only). The lipstick got several comments at the museum, and necessitated me pulling the tube out of my bag several times for passersby.

For those who want to know: Lipstick: Stila Stay All Day in Beso, Eyeshadow: Urban Decay Naked3 palette, Face: BareMinerals Pure Transformation Night Treatment in Light (yes, I wear it during the day) and Nars Blush in Orgasm. Earrings: Stella & Dot (similar). Top: Catherine Malandrino (similar). Trying to get a proper representation of my makeup and hair resulted in me taking far too many photos – here’s a sample of the silliness:

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I hope you will find your moment to try this powerful statement of femininity. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

xoxo,
Mimzy

Not-So-Extreme Makeover

It’s makeover day here at Boardroom To Ballroom!  One of my favorite days when it comes around every few months – haircut and highlight day! The winter months are dragging on, and a fresh crop is definitely in order.

Finding a salon is always hard, no matter where you live. Here in NYC, I used to find the celebrity hairstylist factor to be pretty enticing. I bounced around to a few salons, usually being shocked by the price and not overly giddy about the results. Then, I went through a Gilt Groupe phase, where I purchased cuts or highlights for a lower price. This I found problematic for a few reasons:

1. Salons were generally not the most established or were struggling for new clients
2. During the run of the coupon, the salon was packed and the staff was exhausted
3. You can’t pick your stylist. Luck of the draw.
4. Stylists who volunteer for the lower rate tend to have less experience

For all the reasons listed above, the experience can be absolutely amazing or downright dismal.

Then, one day in 2012, I met my perfect hairstylist match. I happened to be leaving for a trip and needed a last minute trim that was close to my office. I made an appointment at the Paul Labrecque salon (located inside the Reebok Sports Club) on 67th and Columbus, and was placed into the careful hands of Jovany. He has a gift for both color and cut (which, in today’s world of separate specialties, I do not take lightly). He is thoughtful and quiet, but is always ready with a laugh or a story if you feel like chatting.

The “before” was taken early Wednesday morning. I’m wearing a dress by Tucker for Target, pants by Express, belt by Banana Republic. (Side note on this outfit: I am still a huge fan of the dress-over-pants trend that really isn’t a trend anymore, for the simple fact that it allows me to wear dresses to work that would otherwise be too scandalously short. Plus, I love the slimming effect of tone-on-tone dressing – navy in this case.)

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During: 

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Wednesday evening, after cut and highlights:

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Happy as a clam and delighted with my new look.  Thanks again, Jovany!

xoxo,
Mimzy